Trigger Warning: Yes these shots are of a young lady in her underwear and no that is certainly not necessary for this setup to work. Truth be told; we were working on a separate shoot and model, Grace kindly allowed me to quickly grab some of these shots to illustrate this article and lighting concept for you. The simple shots here are really only to show the lighting technique behind combining hard and soft light and what benefits it can have. Once you understand the reasoning and benefits of lighting in this way, you’ll quickly realise just how far you can take it and how versatile it can be.
Like I mentioned, this hard-&-soft-light-combined is a very simplistic concept at its core and once you see it in practice, you’ll quickly see how you can develop it further with other modifiers and setups. So although I don’t use this particular method myself any more today, I used it a ton when I started to play with it many years ago for headshots and hair campaigns. To understand the benefits of lighting with hard and soft light combined, let’s first look at what isolated hard and soft light means to us as portrait photographers.